Brad Clark, of voting machine contractor Hart Intercivic, tests ballot-counting equipment Saturday at the Hawaii County Elections Office. Tests were run statewide to ensure machinery is ready for Saturday’s primary. (NANCY COOK LAUER/WEST HAWAII TODAY)
A test ballot is ready for processing Saturday at the Hawaii County Elections Office. Tests were run statewide to ensure machinery is ready for Saturday’s primary. (NANCY COOK LAUER/WEST HAWAII TODAY)
Dana Rennoe checks the board to make sure she is at the correct voting place for 2010 primary election at Kahakai Elementary School. (West Hawaii Today File Photo)
Precinct worker Cyril Wessner, left, instructs a voter how to use the e-machine for the 2010 primary election at Kahakai Elementary School. (West Hawaii Today File Photo)
HILO —Volunteers, vendors and elections workers dummied up absentee ballots Saturday for a statewide test of the counting machinery and data network in preparation for this coming Saturday’s primary election.
“It went off without a hitch,” said state Elections Office spokesman Rex Quidilla on Monday. “We run these tests with official observers. They act as the eyes and ears (of the public).”
The tests are conducted before every election to ensure that all hardware is working properly and to test the logic and accuracy of the ballot counting program. Political parties and interest groups assign observers to make sure the process is conducted correctly.
While Big Island voters had until last Saturday to request mail-in absentee ballots, there are still opportunities for early walk-in voting, as well as voting on Election Day, said County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi.
She said about 20,000 people requested permanent absentee ballots by the deadline, compared to 6,400 in 2010. Of those, about 10,000 had been returned by Saturday.
The completed absentee ballots must be mailed in time to reach the Elections Office by Saturday, she said. Only the Hilo office is accepting the ballots over the counter until 4:30 p.m. Friday, because the West Hawaii Civic Center is not accepting completed absentee ballots. The Kona office was closed over the weekend and is scheduled to reopen Wednesday. Kawauchi referred all questions about employees who were terminated to the temporary hiring agency, Altres Staffing.
The agency couldn’t be reached Monday evening.
If voters fear their absentee ballot won’t arrive in time, they’re encouraged to simply drop them off at any polling place on Election Day, Kawauchi said. The precincts will be open from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday.
“If people are in a time crunch, dropping it off at a polling place is not a bad idea,” she said.
Early walk-in voting continues at the West Hawaii Civic Center, Waimea Community Center and Aupuni Center in Hilo from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. through Thursday. The polling places will have ballots for all county voters, regardless of their precincts. Two early walk-in voting locations — Pahala and Kohala — that were begun in 2010 were eliminated this year. Kawauchi said the small number of voters in the two locations made it difficult to justify the personnel and resources to keep them open.
So far, about 2,500 people have taken advantage of early walk-in voting, she said.
Some 39,477 voters participated in the 2010 primary, with 59.3 percent, or 23,398 visiting the polls on Election Day. Another 8,870 voted during early walk-in voting.